Book Review

A Cauldron Full of Curses

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on book 2 of Abigail MacQuillan’s adventures! She’s very endearing, and these short books are a quirky mix of scary and witty sarcasm sprinkled with a little dusting of fairy tales. You can find my review of Book 1 here.

In A Cauldron Full of Curses: Book 2 of the Trouble With Hedge Witches Series, Sarina Dorie takes us into Abby’s not-so-distant future. Three months into the future. She’s an apprentice with the oddly endearing Baba Nata (aka the Witch of Nightmares), of Hansel and Gretel notoriety, and her now adoptive brother Lucifer (aka Lucy), the Witchkin boy who kept trying to help her in book 1. Abby decided to apprentice with Baba Nata so she can learn to become a powerful witch and avenge the murders of her family at the hands of the Fae, but of course, things aren’t going as she planned. As in, she isn’t learning any of the things she’ll need to become strong enough to take revenge at all. And of course, everything comes at a price – hers seems to be costing more than a few fingers and toes.

While Baba seems to know everything, and scares just about everything in the woods around her cottage, there’s at least one thing out there that scares Baba. A mysterious Fae is draining Witchkin children and weaker Fae of their life force. It’s up to Abby to defeat this new villain before she’s its next victim.

This book is scarier than the previous one, so I’m glad it’s a short read so I could sleep. Normally I stay away from scary stuff, but I’m already committed to the series (yes, even after one book,) so I have to stick it out and find out what happens. But there is a payoff here. We get to see Abby grow a little as both a girl and a witch. She matures emotionally and physically, especially since this book takes place over the span of a couple of years. She’s willing to go pretty far in her quest to learn to hone her skills as a witch, and learn the skills she will need to get her revenge. But her morality is still problematic for her. On one hand, she desperately wants to make the Fae pay for what they did to her family, but on the other hand, she remembers the last thing her Ma told her, which was to be a good person and not practice magic. She’s obviously blatantly ignoring part of that statement, but her dilemma is really in how far she’s willing to go in her quest to punish the Fae.

In this book, we learn more about where Lucifer comes from and what his backstory is. It’s worth the read, but you’ll have to read it for yourself. There’s even a little romance in the cards! Also, as an interesting side note, we see that maybe Baba Nata isn’t totally a horrible, evil witch. Yeah, she does eat children and all, but she does have some redeeming qualities.I always like a good reimagining of an old tale. In the previous book, aspects of the Hansel and Gretel story are used to fashion a completely new story. In this one, the author incorporates a tiny bit of the Russian tale of Baba Yaga but in a very different way than it is traditionally told. There are snippets of information that are attributed to folklore and myths or tales about the Fae and witches (cold iron, saying thank you, eating children, etc.) woven into the story without seeming artificial. I like the snarky sense of humor the characters have.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 3

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